From the Shop Floor: Wardini Books

We are pleased to present a regular monthly series highlighting the work, expertise and enthusiasm of some of the greatest children’s booksellers of New Zealand. Here’s relative newcomer, the vibrant Wardini Books in Havelock North.

About five years ago, Gareth Ward walked past Janeff Books in Havelock North and saw that it was up for sale. Almost on a whim, but with much excitement and a bag of mad ideas, he and his wife, Louise, bought it. They then poured heart, soul and ‘an unwise amount of savings’ into making it look and feel like the most welcoming and magical place you could enter. Wardini Books was born. They’ve since staffed it with lovely, kind people who are ‘crazy’ about reading and passing on stories to their customers.

What are you recommending this month?

Hawke’s Bay is full of brilliant children’s authors – it’s the mountains, the sea and the wine that does it. Gareth Ward’s multi award-winning The Traitor and the Thief (Walker Books) is our pick for adventure, gadgets, courage and friendship. Mary-anne Scott’s Sticking With Pigs (OneTree House) is our pick for a bush story of self-discovery and the nitty-gritty of pig hunting (the fleas – urgh!).

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From outside of the Bay, staff Catt and Adele love Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman (HarperCollins), a fantasy-thriller for about age nine years and up.

And Lou loves the swashbuckling nuttiness of graphic novel The Adventures of Jack Scratch by Craig Phillips (Me Inc.) (Taupō, not too far from the Bay). Pirates! Ghost Ships! A kitten singing sea-shanties!

What new releases are you looking forward to over the next few months?

Between by Adele Broadbent (OneTree House). School, football, friendship … and an old lady psychic who may be in touch with the dead! Adele is launching this at Napier Prison, the most haunted building in the whole world, and it’s going to be epic!

We’re constantly being asked when the new Friday Barnes or Scarlet & Ivy book is coming out, so we always look forward to letting people know that they’re here.

What do you wish was selling better?

I have a concern that Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic NZ Women might not sell as well as Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (although it’s made a good start!). Some people seem to find overseas stories more glamorous, whereas we have some totally mind-blowing role models right here, right now. Nano Girl, for goodness sake!

Share a nice story you have about matching a book to a customer/reader!

One time a customer wanted a book for a 15-year-old reluctant reader who only liked basketball. I recommended the totally awesome Boy21 by Matthew Quick, whose protagonist is named Finley and guess what? The reluctant reader’s name was also Finley. Result!

We tend to get customers asking for our booksellers by name because Catt/Amy/Adele/Phoebs/Nigel sorted their child out before and they trust them. That’s nice.

What do you wish publishers would publish?

We’re always getting asked for NZ sports and bush craft stories. Des Hunt can’t do it all by himself. I’d also like to see more chapter books from NZ authors for children of about 5–8, and Māori authors publishing for children. I really like Rona by Chris Szekely and Awatea’s Treasure by Fraser Smith. Huia Publishers are doing great things.

Wardini would like to see more books published by magicians who own bookshops, there simply aren’t enough out there at the moment.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

We love the authors that come to see us in Hawke’s Bay (a.k.a. The Centre of the Universe). They work so hard and are such wonderful story-tellers. So far this year we’ve had visits from Maria Gill, Jane Bloomfield, Nikki Slade-Robinson and Dawn Macmillan. Nanogirl popped into the shop just recently! And … massive coup … Dame Fiona Kidman is going to be our guest author at this year’s Battle of the Book Clubs, our fundraiser quiz for CanTeen. How fab is that?

We would like to tell readers about our video blog which we think is informative and mildly amusing. You can find it on YouTube and subscribe to the Wardini Books channel.

We love that publishers see how hard we’re working and are open to helping us with our nutty ideas.

Wardini Books

16 Te Mata Road

Havelock North

Tel: (06) 877 7783